We still need to talk about mental health

I had planned on writing something for World Mental Health Day but time got away from me and it was just another one of those blog post ideas which slipped through the net. But I got to thinking… It’s something we should be talking about all the time. If anything, we should be talking about it because it isn’t World Mental Health Day. So here goes.

I first started to struggle during the final year of my degree. I was commuting to university (a two-hour train journey and half an hour bus ride away), working part-time and attempting to have a social life. I was overwhelmed by how much I had on my plate and couldn’t cut back on any of it. Come night time I couldn’t switch off and was getting stressed out and exhausted. My doctor suggested yoga, prescribed sleeping pills and eventually anti-depressants. I first tried them to help with my PMT but we soon realised that it wasn’t just a hormonal issue. I stayed on them for three years. For most of this time I was simply re-filling prescriptions with no required GP/counselling appointments and when I started to cut back it was my own decision. When I felt ready, and we were thinking about trying for a baby, I took myself off to the doctor and made the decision myself to come off them. My GP supported the decision but I’m still surprised that I was never offered a follow-up appointment. I wonder how many young people are allowed to keep refilling prescriptions for months on end without a check up and how many decide to come off their meds and are expected to recognise when they need to go back and see someone?

1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem this year - Mind

I’m lucky that I recognised my limits and triggers. A year after graduation, I wasn’t in the job that I wanted/expected and decided to do a PGCE. Anxious that I could be taking on too much again, I decided to give up work for a year and concentrate solely on my studies (thank you, student loan! FYI, I couldn’t do this with the current state of student finances!).

Now, as a working mother, there are certain situations where I get particularly stressed out. Like the days when Jenson is suffering with sore gums and spends a lot of time crying, or when he doesn’t nap and I can’t have an hour to myself, or he’s stressed and confused having just moved house and wants to spend every waking second right next to me. I love being a mum but everyone needs a break and time to be them. For me, that’s taking an hour at the end of the day to catch up on my latest favourite Netflix series (I’m still on season three of Gilmore Girls!) or to bust out a blog post or two. Sometimes life as a working mum can be so overwhelming and exhausting that, come the end of the day, there’s not enough hours left to be ‘just me’ and it’s straight to bed to avoid burnout.

Sometimes I blog about mindfulness. Rather, I share other people’s posts about mindfulness in my Saturday Share series because I love the idea but I just don’t have the time for it. It’s so important to put part of your day aside just for you. I never bought into the adult colouring trend but I do find my bullet journal strangely therapeutic. I like planning out my monthly to do list, key dates, jotting down blog post ideas, etc, and colouring in my little title pages and headers. But the bloody thing still hasn’t been unpacked and it’s stressing me out a bit that I haven’t touched my September pages. Swings and roundabouts!

it's ok not to be ok

I love my Friday Favourites posts because I love taking a moment to appreciate the little things from the last week. It’s easy to focus on the nights where Jenson has been upset and wanted to sleep in our bed or the crap public transport system rather than remember a thoughtful colleague bringing me a cup of tea or my mum shouting us a takeaway. We all need to learn to let things go sometimes and practice a bit more gratitude.

Something I read a lot about is self-care and I always want to laugh when I read another post on it. It’s a great idea but, again, ain’t nobody got time for that! The last time I lay back and relaxed in a bubble bath was in the early stages of my pregnancy. The only time I get to sit and read is when I’m travelling to/from work (those four+ hours of travelling a day come in handy!). Actually being able to finish a hot drink? Now that’s a rarity! But it is something that I’d like to try and build into my life, at least once a week. I’ve been saying for the last year that I could do with a spa day!

This rambling post turned into something different than I thought it would. I planned to share a little bit about my own experience with depression and then talk about different ways to help yourself. But nearly 1,000 words later I’ve not covered half of what I wanted to. What I’d like to do is to make this a bit of a regular feature, perhaps monthly. I want to share resources, ideas and stories to reassure anyone who’s struggling that they aren’t alone and that they can get through this. In fact, I’ll be back with another post tomorrow.

Got something you’d like to share/contribute, anonymously or otherwise? Drop me a line :)

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